January 6, 2011 8:45:00 AM
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State defensive coordinator Manny Diaz has accepted the same position with the University of Texas football program.
Diaz, who spent one season in Starkville, will replace Will Muschamp, who recently accepted the job as head coach at the University of Florida.
Diaz, and his wife, Stephanie, toured the University of Texas campus Tuesday and met with UT officials after receiving a call about the job Monday night.
"It came out of nowhere," Diaz said. "I had never made any advances to Texas or any other places for that matter. I came back from the Gator Bowl like everybody else just looking forward to next year."
Diaz said Texas was "one of two or three" places in the country he would''ve have left for to take over as defensive coordinator. Any other options he would have entertained would have been closer to his native Miami, Fla.
"It''s always exciting to go to a new place, but it''s always very heartbreaking to leave," Diaz said, "but it''s very important for everybody to understand that just because I leave that doesn''t derail in any shape or form what''s laid into place here."
Texas has not released financial details of Diaz''s deal.
Diaz spent four seasons at Middle Tennessee before joining coach Dan Mullen''s staff as co-defensive coordinator/linebackers coach for this season.
He thanked Mullen for giving him the opportunity to coach in the Southeastern Conference.
"He brought me into the SEC and onto this stage," Diaz said. "I''ll be forever grateful for that."
Texas coach Mack Brown said in a school-issued release he was impressed by Diaz''s "modernized" defensive schemes, and added the 36-year-old received glowing praise from other people in college football.
"After an extensive search, including conversations with head coaches and offensive coordinators around the country, Manny''s name continued to come up," Brown said. "He''s a bright, young coach who brings a lot of energy to our program. Manny''s been a tremendous staff person everywhere he has been, and he will fit in perfectly with our guys here. When you add him and Bo (Davis) to Duane (Akina) and Oscar (Giles), that''s a defensive staff I''m really excited about moving forward with."
Diaz made $260,000 in his only season in Starkville.
Muschamp made $907,000 his final season in Austin.
MSU assistant coaches are set to receive raises following Mullen''s agreeing to a new four-year, $10.6 million deal last week.
While in Jacksonville for the 2011 Gator Bowl, MSU Athletics Director Stricklin said the ceiling on assistants'' extensions is "a moving target."
He declined to go into detail about whether he presented Diaz with a counter offer, but made sure Diaz knew how much he wanted him to remain in Starkville.
When asked about MSU''s chance to present a counter offer, Diaz said he''d already decided to accept the Texas job.
"This was not a competition," Diaz stressed. "Mississippi State always holds a very special place in my heart. There''s not an issue here in terms of what they could and could not do. This was just about Texas being a very special and unique place, and that''s more what this is about."
Stricklin has emphasized MSU being a place where coordinators and position coaches could grow their careers, both at MSU and by moving on to jobs with more responsibility at other schools. He wants MSU to be a "destination spot" for coaches and players.
Stricklin said the school shouldn''t worry about competing financially to keep assistants as much as it should having a plan in place to replace talent with talent.
"I don''t think the successful programs are the ones who have the same coaches in place for a long time," Stricklin said. "They have a plan in place to move forward. Alabama, they lose coach, but they do they replace them with equally talented guys. Dan has a keen eye for talented coaches."
When reached Tuesday about the possibility of Diaz leaving, Mullen responded with a text message stating that due to a new program policy, he wouldn''t comment on non-MSU related business.
"That applies to whole staff," Mullen said in the text. "Too many distractions with us in dec (December)."
Mullen, who was out recruiting Wednesday, could not be reached for comment.
Diaz helped lead MSU''s defense to a drastic turnaround this season, finishing 22nd nationally in scoring defense (19.85 points per game) and 17th in the country in tackles for a loss. The Bulldogs also finished 17th nationally in rushing defense.
In 2009, MSU''s defense finished 71st in the country in scoring defense, 62nd in rushing defense and 89th in tackles for a loss.
MSU''s defense held the Cam Newton-led Auburn University offense to 17 points -- the Tigers'' lowest point output this season.
MSU''s 52-14 win against the University of Michigan in the Gator Bowl on Jan. 1 strengthened Diaz''s credentials.
MSU held Michigan to its second-lowest point total of the season and held quarterback Denard Robinson, the only player in NCAA history to pass for more than 2,000 yards and rush for more than 1,500 in the same season, to a season-low 59 rushing yards.
"The first day I got here, I said the credit should all go to the players," Diaz said. "They''re the ones that tackled Cam Newton and Denard Robinson. They''re the ones that bought into the system and (they did) what we needed to do."
Diaz''s departure means the Bulldogs will have a fourth defensive boss in four years, following Ellis Johnson (2007), Charlie Harbison (2008), Carl Torbush (2009), and Diaz.
Johnson, who helped lead the Bulldogs to the 2007 Liberty Bowl, left following the season to take the same job at South Carolina. Harbison wasn''t retained after coach Sylvester Croom resigned following the 2008 season, and Torbush left after Mullen''s first year to join University of Kansas coach Turner Gill''s staff as defensive coordinator.
Current MSU co-defensive coordinator/defensive line coach Chris Wilson would be an obvious choice to move up. A possible promotion would help stabilize the current recruiting crop, though there''s been no official word from MSU regarding Diaz''s replacement.
"There''s three really good defensive coaches on the staff right here (at MSU)," Diaz said. "As much as I would loved to be here and be a part of the continued success at this program, I don''t have any doubt coach Mullen will replace me with somebody as good or better. The ship will sail on."
MSU also is exploring options for a new wide receivers coach to replace Mark Hudspeth, who left to take the job as head coach at Louisiana-Lafayette. Graduate assistant Angelo Mirando, who has ties to Mullen while both were at Florida, coached MSU''s wideouts during Gator Bowl preparations.
Stricklin said he has talked with Mullen about the new deals MSU''s assistants are set to receive, though he''s not ready to announce anything.
"We''re making good progress," Stricklin said. "Hopefully, we''ll wrap that up soon."
mississippi kid commented at 1/27/2011 11:11:00 PM:
If this new shinney faced AD has a brain he should go to Middle Tennessee State and BEG JoeLee Dunn to come back. This guy is a Defensive nightmare and should be given the opportunity to play for a STABLE community SEC school. The ONLY reason he got away from Mississippi State was because of Jackie Sherrill and his attempts to dimean and belittle MSU and its atheletic program.
Joe Lee Dunn would be a PERFECT Defensive Coordinator match for Dan Mullen!!!!!!!!!! He would build a long term Defensive Monster if he could be compensated to come back to Starkville. His use of a "Dog Safety" was as much genius as Buddy Ryan's sets.
JOE LEE DUNN for Defensive Coordinator - Write the AD!!!!
1. New Hope turns to Olsen to return soccer program to prominence HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS